CHICAGO (CBS) — The president of a conservative think tank says Mayor Rahm Emanuel should “go all Ronald Reagan” and fire all the teachers in the Chicago Public Schools system if they do not end their strike.
Bill Wilson, president of the group Americans for Limited Government, wrote in a column on Forbes.com that Mayor Emanuel “should move to simply hire new teachers if the union refuses to return to work within a few days.”
As more than a few message board commentators have done since the strike began, Wilson called on Emanuel to “take a page from Ronald Reagan,” who fired 11,345 air traffic controllers after they went on strike in August 1981. The fired strike participants were banned from civil service until President Bill Clinton lifted the sanction in 1993.
Wilson claimed that the fired Chicago teachers could be replaced quickly with new teachers who would not have the same demands.
“In Illinois the unemployment rate stands at 8.9 percent,” he wrote. “An aggressive campaign could recruit 26,000 new teachers in-state and from across the country in very short order from teachers who are desperate to find work, and who will not mind working longer days or being held accountable for student test scores.”
Wilson incorrectly stated in the column that the longer school day was one of the issues the teachers were striking over, along with evaluations would hold teachers accountable for students’ poor test scores. School officials and teachers came to an agreement on the longer school day back in July, when CPS agreed to hire 477 new teachers to handle the extra programs.
The major unresolved issues are actually the evaluation policy, and the policy on recalling teachers who are laid off when a school closes.
But Wilson made the overarching argument that collective bargaining and the right to strike should not be permitted at all for those who work in the public sector.
“Strikes give union bosses too much power to disrupt vital government services unless their demands are met,” he wrote. “In the case of the air traffic control strike, it endangered lives.”
If Emanuel fires all the teachers, Wilson wrote, he “has a unique opportunity to reform the entire Chicago public school system, ensuring that children get a quality education in a district where only 56 percent of students even graduate.”
Wilson is not the first to call on Emanuel to fire all the teachers in the CPS system. Yahoo columnist Mark Whittington wrote Tuesday that the mayor should fire all the teachers and convert every school in the CPS system into a charter school, although he suggested the process of doing so was as simple as “declar(ing) all Chicago Public Schools charter schools” without mention of what private firm would be charged with operating them all.
This is the third day of the Chicago teachers’ strike. The Chicago Teachers Union and CPS officials will return to the bargaining table at 11 a.m. Wednesday.